Effective communication comes in different forms, at different times, for different audiences.
Sometimes you want to influence or motivate…and the words escape you.
You want to create a sense of urgency, but your team members seem comfortable with a slower pace.
You want to convey the benefits of hard work and persistence, but you know that society is reinforcing immediate gratification and the idea that a viral message can change your life overnight. Too many people listen to that siren’s song. Too few people seem to want to grind.
Sometimes the timely comment or speech is effective. Infographics are prevalent. And sometimes a simple graph or diagram tells you all you need to know.
They may require a bit of an explanation, but then….mind blown.
I want to offer you two examples of graphs that motivate me — and can do the same for you and your team.
Darth Vader Wants You to Move. Right Now.
I read a post on Medium by Eric Olszewski entitled, How This One Terrifying Chart Helps Me Get Things Done. Being a bit of a productivity freak, I had to look.
I hoped to find something interesting. Maybe useful.
What I found was Steven King-like, hair-stand-on-end terrifying. But in a good way.
He suggested creating a Life Span chart, based on the number of weeks, per year, for the current life expectancy of the average adult — 88 years.
Below are two copies of the chart.
The one on the left reflects what it would like for a 30-year old. Lots of runway. Room to maneuver. Maybe pivot.
The one on the right is mine. Do you hear that sound? That is the cold hard slap of reality and a voice that sounds like James Earl Jones (or is it Darth Vader?) screaming, ‘Get moving! Today! Right this second!
If the chart on the left looks more like you, congratulations. But don’t get too comfortable. Putting an X in another box each week provides perspective: What did I accomplish? Did I make progress? Did I waste a precious, you can’t-get-it-back box? It’s only a tiny little box. But it’s also a week. It’s a chunk of life.
And they get a little more precious each week.
You can download a blank form here.
Once a week, this chart can give you a wake-up call.
What’s important? Who’s important?
It gets you thinking about not putting off until next week what is most important to you.
Heck, don’t put it off until tomorrow.
It will get you thinking: “What can I do today to make a difference?”
And when you look over at your chart, you determine to take action RIGHT NOW.
Susan Scott, the author of Fierce Conversations, states that “Our work, our relationships, and, in fact, our very lives succeed or fail, gradually then suddenly, one conversation at a time.”
My first recollection of the phrase is from Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, where a a character named Mike is asked how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” he answers. “Gradually, then suddenly.”
The whole notion of sustained effort over a long period of time may be antithetical to the examples of new app adoption, viral videos and influencers who seem to explode on the scene overnight.
TikTok stars. Clubhouse mavens. Social media influencers getting massive dollars for product mentions. Some of those have come out of nowhere and become hard to explain.
But let’s get real.
You have no desire to be the Next Big Thing on TikTok. The idea of hosting a weekly discussion on Clubhouse is not on your agenda.
But how should you approach your work? What is the balance between sustained effort and seeing significant progress?
When you look behind the curtain at some overnight sensations in the business world, you don’t always see the time and effort (and blood, sweat, tears and scars) that went into their success.
John Lee Dumas can announce a new book or a program and people will jump all over it. And buy it. Whatever it is.
But John built up goodwill and amazing credibility after sharing three thousand daily podcasts. Three. Thousand. Every day for more than eight years. Booking successful entrepreneurs. Recommending useful tools. Sharing best practices.
For eight years. To become an overnight success.
Evan Carmichael is an internet entrepreneur and has almost three million subscribers his YouTube channel. He offers coaching, courses and is active on social media. He’s done interviews on YouTube with hundreds of A-list celebrities. He was recognized by Forbes as a Top 40 Social Marketer. His YouTube videos have been viewed more than 300 million times.
How does that happen?
Like John Lee Dumas, Evan Carmichael is a grinder.
Every month on social media, he shares his number of subscribers for the month, every year since inception.
It was a gradual build. Until momentum kicked in. Then he took off.
People marvel at the meteoric rise of Apple, but forget that Steve Jobs started when he was twelve years old trying to pursue an interest in computers. Evenings. Weekends. Summers. He got fired from Apple. And he kept plugging away.
Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, Gary Vaynerchuk, Jack Ma. Long before we’d heard of them, they were working.
Grit. Grind. And then came growth.
This lesson isn’t limited to entrepreneurs, seeking to build their own companies.
It applies to marketing efforts. Measure results. Tweak as needed. But continue to market. Consistently. Relentlessly.
It applies to leadership. Listen. Learn. Deliver value to others. Take action. With persistence. With passion. Every day.
I’m now on day 83 with my Get Farther Faster blog and have 78 subscribers to date. Would I like to see a big jump? Absolutely!
Am I prepared to grind? You bet. Just watch.
What is your goal? What is the work that you need to put in day after day to make that goal a reality?
Name it. Declare it. Be willing to be held accountable to it.
Can you be consistent? Can you grind?
Keep at it. It will come.
Gradually. Then suddenly.